By Lynette Carrington
Lovely Rita Spirits is a relatively young Arizona company that is already making a big name for itself on the local scene, and now, moving into the international spotlight. In September 2017, Lovely Rita Tequila took home the gold medal for its tequila and a silver medal for its vodka at the 2017 New York World Wine & Spirits Competition.
Frank and Lupe's Mexican Restaurant serves Margaritas with Lovely Rita Tequila
The Little Spirits Company that Could
Co-founders of Lovely Rita, Ray Rita, Michael Meinerz and Bob Derks went into their business venture with the goal of eventually sharing the finest spirits on a local, national and then eventually a global scale. The recent medal wins reflect that they are most certainly on the right track. “This was our first spirits competition,” explains Michael Meinerz. “The organizer said that the panel really, really enjoyed our spirits. It was all blind tasting, so they didn’t know whether it was a big brand’s tequila or vodka, or small brand’s tequila or vodka.”
The Living Room Bartender, Marleigh Brown, makes a Cucumber Lime Martini with Lovely Rita Vodka
In order to have been included in the competition, Lovely Rita had to provide a full dossier about its spirits, along with samples. It was an intense competition with no spectators allowed. Needless to say, the owners are thrilled with the wins for Lovely Rita Tequila and Lovely Rita Vodka and the accolades bode well for the brand’s planned global expansion.
Meinerz says, “There are three worldwide major spirits competitions. One is in San Francisco, one in New York and one in London. There are some other ones, too. But those are the three main ones.” He expects that Lovely Rita will participate in the San Francisco and London competitions in 2018. Locally, Lovely Rita Tequila will be taking part in the Tequila Expo during the Arizona Taco Festival at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale October 14-15.
Part of growing the Lovely Rita brand includes working with top talent and distributorship. The owners of Lovely Rita have chosen distributorship through Breakthru Beverage Group. The massive distributor took on the Lovely Rita portfolio at the end of the second quarter of 2017. “Myself and our brand manager, Frank Armanetti have been hitting the road hard. But now that we’re with Breakthru, they have opened a lot of doors for us. We’ve grown from under 50 to over 70 on-premise restaurant locations, and we’ve grown another 15-20 retail outlets,” explains Meinerz.
“We are proud that Breakthru Beverage Arizona is our distributor partner. To have a large distributor like them opens up many doors,” adds Armanetti.
The biggest retail location so far is the newest one, BevMo! Lovely Rita is in the Tempe, Scottsdale Rd. and Tucson locations. Lovely Rita Tequila and Lovely Rita Vodka will both be available at those locations. There are also other large grocery and retail chains that have expressed interest in adding Lovely Rita products in the first quarter of 2018.
Sumo Maya carries both Lovely Rita Tequila and Vodka
Here They Grow Again!
“We have applied for a license in Texas, California, Nevada and Illinois,” says Meinerz of Lovely Rita’s expansion. “Texas will probably be the next state where we expand. We’re hoping to spend the next year really solidifying our position here in Arizona. Then sometime towards the end of next year, expand to Texas.”
6 Degrees Urban Kitchen has Lovely Rita La Perfecta Paloma on the Menu
Meinerz continues, “The other thing we’re doing is working on the global position. A couple of our investors are from South Africa. They have put us in contact with some groups who have helped grow several spirit brands. We’re putting together a plan. We’re getting proposals from three of the big agencies in South Africa which have worked with and taken bigger brands global.” The co-founders and brand manager of Lovely Rita Spirits are hopeful to have a working plan in place by the first of the year to scale the brand globally. It is hopeful that Asia, Europe and Britain will be the next markets after South Africa.
Lovely Rita Spirits are available at local restaurants, bars and properties including Roka Akor, Drexyl Modern American Restaurant, 6 Degrees Urban Kitchen, Second Story Liquor Bar, The Living Room, Frank & Lupe’s, Sumo Maya, McCormick Ranch Golf Club, The Saguaro, 92nd Street Bar and Grill and many others. Lovely Spirits is also looking to expand into some of the resorts in Paradise Valley.
For additional information on Lovely Rita Spirits and a full list of retail and on-premise outlets, visit www.lovelyritaspirits.com.